The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth is a world away from the raw and somewhat gladiatorial approach of The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, which set out to shock people into a new look at religion. Yet it springs from a similar conviction that all is not as it seems in the New Testament, and it argues that to understand where our own ideas come from we need to go back into the minds of our ancestors. Their inner light may clarify our own vision.
Since first beginning to study the Dead Sea Scrolls, John had felt that the doctrines of the Essenes, in many ways so close to Christianity, in others so distant, held the keys to the early development of the church. Had the people of the scrolls given up their messianic vision? Were they all dead, routed from Qumran after the First Revolt? Or did the Essene network that proliferated among the towns and villages enable them to keep their religion alive as the secret teachings of a secret society?
The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth shows how and why the Essenes’ vision evolved into Christian concepts, and how the early church fathers spun these into a web of temporal and moral authority that often seems to have little to do with its philosophical source. It was a web of extraordinary strength, supple and elastic enough to encompass a range of ideas and adapt to historical circumstance. In John’s view its strength did not come from an accident of history – the brief career of a traveling preacher in first-century Palestine – but from its source in myth and prophecy, which shaped the way people thought. In this thought-system, history is not a succession of events in the linear form that we see it, but it is like a globe lit by divine light, where past, present, and future roll around and around. Light is the source and manifestation of god. The quest for divine light has taken in the old fertility religion and given it new expression.
Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth was published by:
Westbridge Books, Devon, 1979 Hardcover First Edition
Abacus, 1979 First Paperback
Sphere, 1981 – Paperback
Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 1984 Hard Cover
Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 1992 Paperback – In print